Parabolic trough collector technology | Torresol Energy

Parabolic trough collector technology

Torresol Energy builds plants with parabolic trough technology, which incorporate a molten-salt storage system. This system allows them to achieve a very high annual usage rate.

How the technology works

These plants are formed of loops (or arrays) of parabolic mirrors that concentrate solar radiation in a central collector pipe through which thermal oil circulates. The solar radiation heats the oil up to a temperature of around 400ºC.

This hot oil is moved to a thermal exchange, where:

  • It vaporizes water, which, in a steam turbine, activates a generator that feeds electric power to the grid.
  • At times of maximum insolation, it also heats fluid nitrate salts and stores the heat in a tank that allows it to keep generating power when there is no sunlight.

Valle 1 and Valle 2

Owned by Torresol Energy and located in the south of Spain, the Valle 1 and Valle 2 parabolic trough plants have:

  • 50 MW of power each.
  • A solar field of 510,000 m2 with SENERtrough® collectors.
  • A molten-salt heat storage system that allows it to supply electric power for up to seven hours when there is an absence of solar radiation.

SENERtrough® collectors

The SENERtrough® system of parabolic troughs, developed and patented by SENER, incorporates design improvements that allow for reduced assembly time and the reduced weight of the collectors’ structure compared with similar systems. 

This is an important factor, given that a standard 50 MW solar plant incorporates 90km of cylindrical-parabolic collectors.

The application of the SENERtrough® system in Torresol Energy’s plants reduces the cost of collecting energy and building the plants, which translates into their improved technical-economic provisions.